Mitchell Reports | November 20, 2012
>>> and welcome back. joining me now is michael gerson , a " washington post " editorial writer and former speechwriter for president george bush and bill burton co-founder of the pro obama super pac. thanks. both of you have been involved in situations like this. bill, you know susan rice really well and she does, according to dianne feinstein and other supporters, seem to be scapegoated for something that has gotten spiraled out of control here?
>> well, it's unfortunate that the politics have taken over something that should be a serious and straightforward process here. obviously the president hasn't picked anyone, but ambassador rice is one of the most talented members of the foreign policy team and the fact that people like john mccain and lindh si graham and kelly i at are using her to go after president obama , is unfortunate. it's also frankly pretty illogical. the politics of this are probably shifting a little bit and probably seeing that. the optics of the way they're attack her are hurting her. i think that the way they've attacked her in this illogical way is hurting their argument to have a serious foreign policy debate right now.
>> michael, what is your take on this?
>> i think there are a lot of serious questions about libya, why weren't our people better protected, the terrorist role downplayed.
>> why didn't the state department respond to intelligence not only warnings but attacks. five separate attacks.
>> plenty of questions here. i'm not sure how they relate to susan rice . i've been in government. she went on stel vision, was given a set of talking points . it would have been strange if she had used different talking points than the ones she had been given. congress is expressing frustration but it's misdirected. that doesn't mean she's necessarily the best person for the job. that's the choice the president will have to make. i don't find this particularly disqualifying.
>> we're told the president will be making decisions as early as right after thanksgiving about the new cabinet. he has a foreign policy team, tim geithner wants to step down. bill, you've been in this situation. michael you as well in shaping a second term. what about john kerry for secretary of state? clearly very well qualified, the chairman of the foreign relations committee ? what about the replacement for tim geithner, jack lew, the white house chief of staff , former budget director the best person for it? does the president now need large figures who can go on television, who can sell the policies? what are they weighing here?
>> i think, you know, it sounds like the president has not made any final decisions at all. about senator kerry , he is a really -- his record is extraordinary, going all the way back to serving in the vietnam war and i think that if senator kerry were to become the secretary of defense, it would be such a great koda to what has been a long --
>> he wants to be secretary of state.
>> you know, i haven't talked to senator kerry about which job that he wants but i do know that he would be a great secretary of state but also a great secretary of defense. you know, be as for all the other speculation about jack lew and who will fill the other roles. it's just speculation right now.
>> i think the president faces a decision on susan rice whether he wants this fight. this would be a multiday questioning on libya and a promised filibuster by serious members of the senate. he may, but he may not. i think that senator kerry , even for the secretary of state job, he has been a troubleshooter for president obama .
>> pakistan and afghanistan.
>> and sudan. involved in those negotiations with the separation of south sudan . he's played an important role. you know, he would have a immediate standing with foreign governments. and that's a very strong choice at state it strikes me as well.
>> michael gerson , bill burton, thank you very much.